Plaintiffs demand Anschutz materials
Court motion related to accounting scandal By Jeff Smith, Rocky Mountain News January 15, 2005
Plaintiffs in a class-action securities fraud lawsuit against Qwest Communications allege founder Phil Anschutz and director Craig Slater have repeatedly refused to produce documents initially requested 11 months ago.
In a motion filed this week in Denver federal court, a lawyer for the shareholders asked a judge to order the Colorado billionaire and his associate to produce the materials requested - which include diaries, notes and all communications with other defendants, outside counsel and Qwest's former auditor Arthur Andersen.
Anschutz officials downplayed the dispute Friday, saying that around the same day the plaintiffs filed their motion, Anschutz attorneys had mailed a letter saying the documents would be forthcoming.
"We told them we were producing all but a couple of documents that we view as personal, irrelevant or harassment," said Anschutz attorney Bruce Black.
Documents not being turned over include personal tax returns, Black said.
The document issue comes as the Denver telco is trying desperately to reach a "global settlement" that would resolve all shareholder lawsuits stemming from the accounting scandal under former Chief Executive Joe Nacchio.
Nacchio, Anschutz and others also are accused of misleading investors about the firm's financial condition, allegations they deny.
Qwest agreed last fall to pay $250 million to settle accounting fraud allegations with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but the shareholder lawsuits linger. Qwest neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing in settling with the SEC.
Qwest, which has erased $2.5 billion worth of inflated revenues and profits from its 2000 and 2001 books, is still under criminal investigation, and the SEC and Justice Department still are investigating former Qwest executives, including Nacchio.
Federal court records show the civil class-action plaintiffs, represented by Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins of San Diego, sent letters to an Anschutz attorney last Dec. 8, 16 and 20 requesting documents or a meeting. Anschutz did produce materials related to one of 23 categories of requests.
In the Dec. 20 letter, Lerach attorney Ray Mandlekar warned the "unjustified refusal" to produce the additional documents left him little course but to file a motion in court to compel such production. Mandlekar didn't return a phone call Friday.
Anschutz spokesman Jim Monaghan said Friday that Anschutz officials weren't trying to stall. Monaghan noted that a freeze on discovery had been lifted only Nov. 30, and then Anschutz attorneys had to decide which information was legitimate to disclose